Stay hired. Don’t get fired!
Career Coach, Fiona Wainrit, of Finetuned Coaching has a giggle about how to keep your job in a tough economic market.
Whether it’s called ‘re-designing’, ‘restructuring’, or ‘re-sizing’, fact is Australia has experienced a recent wave of retrenchments, which are on the rise. The banks have been the front-runners in retrenching staff, which is tapering through to manufacturing, retail, along with many other industry sectors.
How do you hold onto your job when everyone else is getting retrenched? After extensively researching this issue and talking to employees who survived mass retrenchments during the GFC, I’ve come up with these top five tips to stay employed:
1. Look busy– Looking busy is key. Think about the ‘Penske file’ on Seinfeld; where George carries this file with him everywhere, sleeps under his desk and basically looks annoyed and frustrated all the time:
One of my friends worked in a finance contract role. Towards the end of the contract the workload started to slow down. However, he wanted to ride it out till the end date. So, in order to ensure he looked busy, he’d walk around the office talking in a stressed out tone on his mobile. He also had a whole bunch of files open on his desk and PC so that when someone walked past, he appeared to be over-loaded with work. He also “worked” on the same excel spreadsheet for a whole month, adding in bogus data and simply shifting a single cell up and down each day. No one caught on, as every time someone walked past, he appeared to be busy working.
Perhaps you don’t need to go to such extreme lengths to look busy. Finding things to actually keep you busy would take a lot less effort than trying to fake it! Even on a quiet workday, there are always ways you can stay busy. Take the opportunity to clean your desk, get your files in order and make contact with important clients/ contacts to discuss future projects. Map out a timeline of what you’d like to achieve and when. Put clear strategies in place, so that you are more prepared for the busy period. Take initiative by assisting colleagues and taking on additional work. No matter what, never let anyone see you on FB or Twitter during work time (save this for your mobile, it’s a smaller device. No one will notice!).
- First in, last out- Get into work early. Beat the boss, the IT geeks and that finance person who commutes from the Peninsula and likes to leave by 5pm. Once a week, wear the same clothes you had on the day before, rustle up your hair and don’t shave. (This part obviously only applies to the guys, no one will notice your underarms if you’re a female!). This will give the impression you have pulled an all-nighter. Also, be one of the last to leave. Wait until the important people have gone. This will give the impression you’re working hard.
Ok, so I may have embellished a little here, but there is an element of truth to being “visible” in the office and not being the first to leave. It sends a good sign if you choose to come in a fraction earlier than most and don’t mind staying back every now and then. Sure, we all have lives outside of work and you won’t benefit anyone by burning the candle at both ends. So, find the right balance of work versus playtime.
3. Get chummy with HR– I’ve witnessed colleagues “getting in” with HR for their own selfish reasons and personal gain. They would often take coffee/ cigarette breaks with HR and go for lunches, using it as an opportunity to express how much they ‘loved their job’, whilst dropping subtle hints about which workers weren’t “pulling their weight”.
Like anyone, HR love their egos being stroked. However, you don’t need a giant straw to build a genuine relationship with HR. Why not simply do a great job, take the time to show authentic interest in them, seek their advice where necessary, share your career ambitions within the organisation and value their opinions. By no means do you need to bitch or back stab to communicate your interest in your job. When it comes to crunch time, you’ll be at the bottom of the retrenchment list if they know you, enjoy your company and you’re doing a good job.
4. Be a “Yes” person- One of the best ways to keep your job is to volunteer for new initiatives. Offer to help with projects, take on more responsibility, run the social committee. And put your hand up to perform the tough tasks no one else wants.
5. Be a ray of sunshine- In a tense work environment, where people are over-worked and stressed out, be the positive one others like to be around. When co-workers bitch and moan, listen but never complain, save this for your partner or friends. I always run by the motto “strength in times of adversity”, as it’s the tough times we learn the most from. So, by staying resilient during demanding work circumstances, the more capable you’ll be in managing other life challenges.
Follow these simple steps with ease so it doesn’t appear contrived. Ensure you develop a unique personal brand. This may include acquiring a niche skill that no one else possesses which is of value to the organisation. All these things will make you harder to replace. When in doubt, think of George Costanza working the ‘Penske file’ and you’ll be smooth sailing during turbulent financial times!